The most profound thing in my dreams is that the story, in different context, takes place around the same area albeit in a different form. One such entity is an old dilapidated fortress that has been forgotten even by the cattle that stray all around it. The first time I discovered this (in the first episode of dream) was with my father who took me on a tour of the city he was working in. A normal Gwalior kind of city that reminded me of various excursions I undertook as a kid in and around the universe of Khajuraho. I have a thing for lonely places, the old lanes, crumbling corridors, and gallows that now speak of a pigeon going gutar guuuuu, gutar guuuuuuu. It is interesting to notice him noticing you with its spring neck that wobbles in all directions, and tiny eyes asking 'What the fuck are you doing here?' So anyway, the tour ends up in me fishing in back pond, as always moonstruck.
There is really no reason for me to remember my dreams so vividly that their retelling ends up boring my folks, especially my sister (Ha Ha!). But the whole journey that begins from somewhere and ends in me being all alone is just so fascinating.
Then I saw me revisiting an old industrial town that is now just a sketch from late 70s. A place where the factories are shut down, theatres put up painted posters and markets that have the same pink colour in which they were earlier painted. It is said that we don’t dream in colour but associate a shade from our conscious. I don’t wish to debate that as I am happy dreaming in Technicolor. This reminds me of a certain sequence in Gevacolour, a cross between Eastman and the modern version. So let it be, psychoanalysts; I play my own games.
So getting back on track, the same fortress I had seen earlier twice, appears in a new avatar where in it is a palatial mansion embellished for what it appears to be a huge celebration. And I, being the punctual guy, reach late. It is my cousin’s wedding and she is looking drop dead gorgeous in her mid-20s – she is 11 now. For me it is a reason to raise two toasts as she is marrying a cousin from my father’s side. In between I see my naani, who has been waiting to see me for a long time. Draped in a white saree with red border, and wearing pearls, she resembles Rajmaata (I come from Jaipur) and gets up with a huge smile on her face. “Where have you been? I have been dying to see you kittu!” I gradually learn that the celebrations are mellowing down and it is time for something special that only I can do. Naani holds my hand and goes to the Eastern corner of the mansion. Contrary to the scales of such places, this staircase is not more than 6 feet wide and has no carvings, no borders and no arch. As we walk I down, there is a question, ‘Naani, kahaan jaa rahe hain hum’. She just smiles and tells me that the only person capable of continuing the tradition is ME.
There is a play on my ear lobes that brings with it a serene calm and sweet smell. The sound is that of rippled waters, and the cool breeze sends that adorable tingle down your body. The kind, which is in the air at the end of springtime or in the October sunshine. Naani has bread in her hand, and when the door opens, there is water all around from the same pond. It is all the same but in a different light.
Despite pitch darkness, the glow from the fortress lofts on the water along with a fish popping here or there. We sit on the stairs with our feet immersed in the cool aqua, and feed the marine beauties. “Hasn’t it been a long time since you did this kittu?”
There is this thing with life – moments come in numbers and all of them are either pre determined or they end up being that. At times, there is a call in the heart that says, let this stand still, for I feel like one with myself. Let me live just one moment, stop the ticking and a sense of being complete within the universe brings a smile that we can never have in this cruel world.
And I am there, all by myself, allowing the nature to put in a few words and notes of itself. In between my eyes try to catch a playful moon on the surface that moves here and there and then everywhere. Breathing contentment, I walk out to find that everybody has retired and it is time I catch a grub. I go for a place without understanding why? My feet just take me there, to an old bakery shop. And everyone there is just so happy to see me. It is like nostalgia.
‘Kittu baba, kahan ho?’ asks baba – that’s what I call him. He gives me a chucky, the groundnut and jaggery delight. This one is different, it is filled with groundnuts, almonds and pistachio and is really thick. I am not charged, for I used to steal this as a kid. There is nothing in the world that I used to ask for except this delicacy.
And then, my now-conscious brain, that is dreaming, decodes the dream and takes me into a sepia-tinted flashback mode. There goes the young me stealing a little, running away with a brave man’s smile and rushing to the eastern corner. This is where I spent all my time feeding the fish.
I realised that somewhere within the vagaries of time, I have lost myself. The kid inside resides within the forgotten lanes, unnamed streets, stone cave-corners et al. As I write this down, there is lump in my throat that I am trying hard to suppress. At any given moment, I would rush down to my old fort and play around with solitude.
Let the ripples lift me and play around like angels with a cute little kid. That is that I wish for!